Hiking the CA coastline
Collected by Rajam Roose, AFAR Local Expert
My husband and I enjoy hiking & vacations on California coastline. The California coast offers a variety of great hikes and views. The state budget cuts are threatening public access to these gorgeous lands and we risk losing these amazing treasures. I hope sharing these images will help people realize the beauty of our coastline. By visiting our parks, we can help keep them ours. Not all of these hikes are on state parks or right on the coastline, but at least within a couple miles thereof.
US-101, Goleta, CA 93117, USA
Gaviota State Park has some amazing views- yes, that is the Pacific Ocean and the Channel Islands in the upper left corner! This image is taken from the Trespass Trail, just a short 2.5 mile total length and a 600 ft elevation gain, makes this an...
47000 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
Highway 1 runs about 90 miles through this rugged Big Sur coastline and is absolutely stunning. The tall and wild Santa Lucia mountains plummet into the energetic Pacific Ocean. Sea otters, which were thought to be extinct, were discovered living...
Paso Robles Dr, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405, USA
Harmony Headlands Trail is a trail that used to be an old ranch road that starts at the small parking lot and goes out to the coast. The hike itself isn't very interesting, as you are walking through former ranch land amongst rolling hills covered...
This Ranch Preserve has several miles of trails that run along the edge of the coastline and up sloping hills into pine forests. I've hiked here several times with my husband and we've seen squirrels, red-tail hawks, kites, egrets, deer, whales,...
Piedras Blancas, California 93452, USA
Piedras Blancas was one of my favorite spots on our driving trip down the Pacific Highway in California. I could have spent hours watching the elephant seals sun bathe while the young pups clumsily try to wedge their way into the huddle.
3550 Pecho Valley Rd, Los Osos, CA 93402, USA
The Montana De Oro state park is located in San Louis Obispo county on the central coast of California. There are many hikes in Montana De Oro state park and this was the longest one we've done yet in this beautiful state park. This was the 7.9...
45500 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
Initially, we were going to hike another trail further down the road but when we arrived, the portion we wanted to hike was closed due to a landslide. We headed back north and decided to hike this trail since we pass the trail head often. The...
San Ysidro Rd, Montecito, CA 93108, USA
The San Ysidro trail meanders uphill through oak groves. This is about a 4 mile round trip hike with a 650 ft elevation gain. After checking out the falls, we headed back down the trail a short bit before stopping to enjoy our picnic of breads,...
Morro Bay, CA 93442, USA
Portola Point hike is only about two miles long and located just off hwy 1. This short hike gives a 320 ft elevation gain and great views of the Morro Bay area. A morro is the heart of an ancient volcano, Morro Bay in California is named for the...
Goleta, CA 93117, USA
This is a short little hike from a parking lot to the bluffs across a windswept land of grasses. Nearby is a Monarch butterfly wintering ground. Thousands of Monarch butterflies come here during the winter and hang out in a large grove of...
25050 CA-1, Jenner, CA 95450, USA
Salt Point Park is in the Northern part of Sonoma County in California. There are 20 miles of trails in this park and we hiked the Central Trail to the Pygmy Forest and looped around the Prairie to the South Trail to return via the Powerline...
5180 Tecolote Rd, San Diego, CA 92110, USA
Tecolote Canyon was once inhabited by the Kumeyaay people. This park has about 6 1/2 miles of hiking and bicycling trails. A great part of it runs along the Tecolote Canyon golf course. My husband and I love visiting nature centers to learn about...
1498 13th St, Imperial Beach, CA 91932, USA
The Tijuana Estuary is a small intertidal coastal estuary on the international border between California and Mexico. This place is a fantastic place for bird watching. Over 350 species of birds have been recorded in this wetland habitat. This is...
Cazadero, CA 95421, USA
We hiked the Rhododendron state reserve in March, so the rhododendrons weren't in bloom. May is supposed to be the best time to see the blooms. I did see rhododendron plants in profusion, so I can only imagine how gorgeous this hike will be when...
42401 CA-1, Gualala, CA 95445, USA
Gualala Point has 195 acres of forest land and coastline. We made a long loop from where we parked just off hwy 1 past some campgrounds and then hiked back over 1 and along the Gualala River. It's not a long hike and the trail is mostly flat, with...
62 CA-1, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, USA
I've been all over the California coast and Point Lobos is my favorite place to hike. We have hiked every trail in this reserve and never tire of this magical place. You can see many animals, such as sea otters, seals, elephant seals,sea lions,...
1 New Years Creek Rd, Pescadero, CA 94060, USA
Año Nuevo State Park is the site of the largest mainland breeding colony in the world for the northern elephant seal. You have to reserve a spot for the guided walking tour and it's only available from Dec. 15 through March 31st. You can learn...
45500 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
We hiked the Ridge, Panorama and Bluffs Loop trail. A 7.5 mile trail with a 1300 ft elevation gain. You can see the ocean to the left and beautiful mountains to the right as you hike along the Ridge Trail portion, the trail then dips down towards...
Moonstone Beach, California 93428, USA
The Moonstone Beach boardwalk is located in Cambria, CA and runs along Moonstone Beach Dr. The beach is so called because of the moonstone agate that you can find here, not only agates, but jade, jaspers and other semi-precious stones that are...
Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, California, USA
The Monterey Bay Coastal trail extends 18 miles from Castroville to Carmel, where the trail is attached to the famous 17 mile drive in Carmel. Whether you want to bike, run, walk or follow it along in a kayak, this paved trail is a great way to...
17 Mile Dr, California, USA
So many people pay money to drive along the famous 17 mile drive in Carmel....did you know that you can bicycle along this route for free? Taking a bicycle is much better anyway because there are a lot of stops along the route. If you didn't bring...
700 W Carmel Valley Rd, Carmel Valley, CA 93924, USA
A docent at the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History told us about Garland Ranch after we asked him about a good place to view wildflowers. Since it was springtime, we knew there would be some good wildflower viewing in the area and Garland...
La Jolla, San Diego, CA, USA
Many people don't realize this, but although La Jolla, California, is portrayed as a separate city, it is actually a community within the city of San Diego. A short 15-20 minute drive from downtown San Diego takes you to the dramatic coastline....
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